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Old March 24, 2013, 12:40 PM   #26
BigJimP
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I think it varies by "era" of our history....

a. Single Action revolvers certainly have their era ...and I still enjoy them a lot. The old Colt's have a solid place...and new companies like Freedom Arms certainly deserve a nod...

b. 1911 ...for the 20th and into the 21st century.../ its popularity may be as strong as ever now.../ and today from so many mfg's and in so many calibers.

c. The "N" frame S&W revolvers....model 27's & 28's in .357 mag / model 29's in .44 mag...for a majority of the 20th century and into the 21st century../Colt Python probably deserves at least an honarable mention as well.
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I don't know how you can pick just one to be "America's sidearm" ...without some perspective of the era involved...or at least I can't / I own several of each - and day to day, I can't pick just one favorite let alone one gun as "America's sidearm"...
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Old March 24, 2013, 12:42 PM   #27
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"Glock is many times more popular than the 1911"

Only problem is this thread isn't about what is most popular.
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Old March 24, 2013, 01:13 PM   #28
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"We're not talking about popularity, we're talking about the gun that comes to mind when you think of American spirit and will."

That's completely in the eye of the beholder, and how he chooses his symbols from his own experience.

Mind you, I have nothing whatever against the 1911. Brilliant design, powerful caliber, long associated with our military. That last factor alone sells it to many people as "America's handgun".

But generations of LEO's, countless Air Force and Navy pilots, many Vietnam War tunnel rats, and millions of civilians protecting their lives, homes and loved ones have used .38 Special revolvers, with the LEO's and lots of civilians often transitioning to .357 Magnum. I don't think you can rule out the fine Smith, Colt and Ruger wheel guns from consideration.
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Old March 24, 2013, 01:18 PM   #29
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Agreed on all points Shoulda, I was trying to explain to the Glock diehards the actual purpose of this thread, everyone seems intent on discussing popularity and numbers.
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Old March 24, 2013, 01:43 PM   #30
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Most purchased doesn't equal most popular.

Price Colt 1911s and Glocks the same and see which sells the most.
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Old March 24, 2013, 02:08 PM   #31
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The 1911, for civilian or police sales, has taken 100 years to sell 2-3 million guns.
And you know this because you've compiled all the production figures from all the dozens of 1911 manufacturers over the last 100yrs???

Glock also practically gives guns away to law enforcement. Sort of the Microsoft of the gun world.

Did the Marine Corps just order a bunch of new Glocks, or did they order 1911's from Colt?

I shot and enjoyed them for 15yrs but no way is a plastic gun from Austria "America's Sidearm".
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Old March 24, 2013, 02:41 PM   #32
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Like some of the others have said, I don't understand how an Austrian company assembling handguns in Austria could ever be considered "America's sidearm", regardless of its popularity in the united states.

I don't have anything against Glock, their United States headquarters is even in my state. They provide jobs and firearms to a good number of people and I respect them for it, but I think "America's sidearm" should be made in America.
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Old March 24, 2013, 03:34 PM   #33
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Here are the reasons why the Glock is not in the same conversation for "America's sidearm", compared to the 1911:

1) Foreign development
2) Foreign development of the caliber
3) Prior success of the 9mm, IE there was no gamble in chambering the Glock 17 in 9mm and many other glock models. In other words, a big part of the design was based on something ALREADY proven, the 9mm.
4) The intent was to make a sidearm for the Austrian army, not the US army, which was the intent of the 1911.
5) The glock borrowed elements of its design from prior pistols. The 1911 was almost completely a brainchild of John Browning.
6) The 1911 has been around over 100 years, and is still going strong. The glock 17 has been around since approx 1983.
7) The 1911 served in 2 world wars, the Korean war and the Vietnam conflict.
8) The 1911 was a sidearm of the greatest military in the world from 1911 to 1985.
9) The 1911, is completely copied, by many makers other than its originator.
10) The 1911 beat out several other state of the art / modern designs during the pistol trials to win a contract for US sidearm.
11) The 1911 faced off against many other excellent sidearms in WWI and WWII, and yet the winners had 1911s. Of course, the 1911 did not win the war, but it sure saved many lives and killed many enemy soldiers.
12) The 1911 was originally only made by a US manufacturer.
13) The 45 cal in general is an American caliber and can trace back all the way to when the black powder Army pistols such as the 1860 Army and 1858 Remington were being replaced by cartridge revolvers.
14) If you look at all of the 1911 makers total production, it vastly surpasses glocks total production. For fairness, the glock 17 should be compared to the 1911, not variation vs variation.

I do not believe the Glock is in the same convo for all of these reasons, and perhaps a few more. I also think the glaring difference in production, service life, etc between the 1911 and SAA exclude the SAA from the convo. The SAA was also not nearly as ground breaking for the time as the 1911 was. As far as the SAA winning the west vs the 1911 being in wars - the SAA was not a very common civilian arm compared to percussion revolvers, or small pocket pistols, which were more common in the wild west. The SAA was one of the most expensive side arm options in its day.

The only other arm that one could argue for is the S&W M&P / or perhaps the 38 special swing out cylinder revolver, of which the M&P was first, arriving in 1899. The M&P is there, and was great in all ways, and still is, but there is a vital category it loses out vs the 1911, which is the fact that its service life as a main arm was very short compared to the 911. The 1899 arrived in 1899, and the 1911 arrived in 1911. Suddenly, the M&P was now a substitute standard sidearm rather than the main sidearm which the 1911 was for decades. Even though the M&P enjoyed great commercial success, the 1911 had just as much commercial success in its time ALONG WITH great military success, and the M&P military wise pales in comparison.
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Old March 24, 2013, 03:40 PM   #34
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America's sidearm....

Smith & Wesson .38 revolver.
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Old March 24, 2013, 03:47 PM   #35
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Personally, I'm still of the opinion that the Smith & WEsson Hand Ejector is America's sidearm.

They also served in WW I, WW II, WW Korea, Vietnam, etc...
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Old March 24, 2013, 03:49 PM   #36
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They also served in WW I, WW II, WW Korea, Vietnam, etc...
I think the key there is that the 1911 was the MAIN sidearm, and went up against the Luger, P38, Berettas, Tokarevs, and other foreign revolvers. It also was against the BHP during WWII.

The S&W M&P was issued in much smaller numbers, and for a shorter period of time.

I'm more of a revolver guy, and a S&W guy, but facts are facts.
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Old March 24, 2013, 03:51 PM   #37
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Look at it this way, the M&P was the substitute sidearm TO the 1911...meaning that when comparing the two, the M&P was issued where the 1911 could not be or was not needed but for front-line guys, the 1911 was chosen over the M&P. They were contemporaries as well.
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Old March 24, 2013, 03:57 PM   #38
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Yes, the 1911 was the primary chosen sidearm, but does that make it "America's Sidearm" in the context that you're using?

It makes it America's primary military sidearm, but when you get right down to it, the S&W hand ejector was FAR more popular commercially than the 1911 was until the 1980s.

So, really, it took the 1911 70 years, or pretty much when it was ending its term as America's standard military sidearm, to become really popular commercially.

I will admit, now it's making up for lost time.

Oh, and Colt even sold tons more revolvers commercially than it did 1911s...

Colt also sold more 1903s commercially than it did 1911s during the same period.
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Old March 24, 2013, 04:12 PM   #39
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I'd probably go with the SAA.
The 1911 would be a close second.
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Old March 24, 2013, 04:16 PM   #40
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Which handgun is America's sidearm?
The one at my side at any given time....as long as it's American made. Last thing it would be would be a piece of Tupperware from a European curtain rod manufacturer........
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Old March 24, 2013, 04:16 PM   #41
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My vote is for all variants of the S&W J-Frame. My guess is there are more J-Frames in pockets out there than there are 1911's in holsters on belts. "America's Gun" is the one that nobody talks about, but saves lives every night.

The 1911 is just a pain in the rear. I have spent too much money on 1911's that did not work properly. I have certainly wasted too much time testing malfunctioning guns that should have worked from the factory. I added up all my receipts a few years back. This was over the course of six guns and nearly 10 years. I could have had a very nice Heirloom Precision gun and several thousand rounds of ammo for that money. I will sell a gun that needs to be tested; the 1911 has burned out that desire. I used to think of it as a challenge, but now it's just an exercise in frustration and pocketbook willpower.

I know everyone likes to praise the design, but it's really not that good. The cartridge has to bounce around too much to get into the chamber. Hilton Yam has written quite a bit about how the gun needs to be modified, tested, and maintained so cartridges continue to flow correctly into the chamber. The vast majority of gun owners do not have the skills to keep the gun running properly (10-8s 1911 class will solve that). Not that it stops Americans; we forge ahead over the 1911 cliff despite the danger. Bigger is better and expensive and bigger is "more betterer".
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Old March 24, 2013, 04:17 PM   #42
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I would probably saw the Colt Official Police or S&W M&Pin terms of numbers sold, carried, etc. I think the M1911s popularity has grown over the last 40 or years due to the writings of Cooper, the growth of IPSC, etc. and also the various gunsmiths who found out how to make an M1911 truly accurate while maintaining reliability.
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Old March 24, 2013, 04:19 PM   #43
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It makes it America's primary military sidearm, but when you get right down to it, the S&W hand ejector was FAR more popular commercially than the 1911 was until the 1980s.
Quote:
Oh, and Colt even sold tons more revolvers commercially than it did 1911s...
Quote:
Colt also sold more 1903s commercially than it did 1911s during the same period.
Quote:
So, really, it took the 1911 70 years, or pretty much when it was ending its term as America's standard military sidearm, to become really popular commercially.
Ok but what might be a really good reason for that? Maybe a high pct of production going into two separate world wars? Also it was more expensive as a civilian arm.

Quote:
I will admit, now it's making up for lost time.
In a way, S&W did as well, but in a different way. Rossi, Taurus and the low quality Spanish copies, copied S&W, notably the M&P.

Another consideration with the M&P is how Colt introduced the DA revolver in 1877, before S&W, and the DA swing out cylinder in 1889, before S&W. So the great M&P did borrow signifcant aspects of its design. The 1911 was way more an original design whereas the M&P was somewhat more a perfection of older technology which was introduced by makers other than S&W.

The S&W was largely issued to police and agencies because the 1911 was considered over kill IMO AND the M&P was cheaper. The M&P was also reliable, in a proven caliber so it worked. It is and was a great design, but was not near as ground breaking as was the 1911.
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Old March 24, 2013, 04:26 PM   #44
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"Which Handgun is America's Sidearm?"
We're talking handguns here.

Being something like America's sidearm isn't something that anyone chooses. It's something that is. It's something that is uniquely American. Something that from Patagonia to Reykjavik, Papua to Galway, folks look at it and say "That American Gun."

It's a stone fact that there is more than one. We are fortunate that way.

No1. and still kicking, what folks in the Bantustans call "the cowboy gun". The Colt Model P, the 1873, the Colt Single Action Army, the Peacemaker, the "Thumb Buster", the original "Colt 45". You can argue that Remington made a good handgun, that the Walkers came first, but at the end of the hours, the 1873 is so strongly identified with America, cowboys, the West and etc. that it is and always will be America's gun. By extension all single action handguns of that pattern are known as cowboy guns and thus American.

No. 2. The 1911. No doubt and enough said. It fits the criteria of number 1.

No3. is the only controversial one of the bunch. The snubby. The short barreled da revolver in calibers that count. I think the snubby has a good spot as America's gun. In J frames, the Dick Special, the Colts and S&Ws and Rugers, etc. Other countries made good da revolvers, Britain, Spain, Belgium and others in various calibers. maybe none as good as S&W and Colt did but still good. Good snubbies were made by England in the "Bull Dog" class of gun. But America made snubbies like nobody else and still does. Long after Europe gave up on the revolver we have held onto it and continue to produce it in large numbers. But the snubby holds a unique place here. I think the third of America's handguns.

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Old March 24, 2013, 04:47 PM   #45
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Oy, as much as I like the Government Model, I don't think it can be the sole pocessor of the term of America's Sidearm.

I would profer that it would really be a three way tie between the Government Model, the S&W Military & Police/Model 10, and the Glock 22.
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Old March 24, 2013, 04:58 PM   #46
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I think when people say SAA, they are thinking hollywood more than history. When you watch an old western, every cowboy has a SAA, and this is fictitious but when you see a WWII film where nearly every US soldier that has a pistol, has a 1911, this is real. The SAA was issued WITH the schofield, showing it could not dominate its contemporaries the way the 1911 did. Also, it was surpassed quickly compared to the 1911, and in a meaningful way - SA vs DA, swing out cylinder vs loading gate.

The 1911 also arguably did much more for the country, and is more popular today, than the SAA was for its centennial. Even with the SAA copies, the 1911 still has more, and is a good enough design to be ordered by the USMC.

When I say America's sidearm, I mean in all respects: origin in this country, caliber origin in this country, how original the design, how long it was relevant, how many were made, how long it has been popular, how it was judged against its contemporaries, domestic usage, military service life, functionality, reliability, etc.
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Old March 24, 2013, 05:03 PM   #47
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I will admit that if the 1911 never existed, SAA makes some sense, and the M&P makes even more sense. If talking a foreign made pistol, with a heavy following in the US, probably the glock would be it, although the beretta 92 is there too.
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Old March 24, 2013, 05:22 PM   #48
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the question is "Which handgun is America's sidearm? ".
there is absolutly no question in my mind, there are only 2 handguns that fit the bill. the saa 45 and the 45 cal 1911 in all their forms. they are the most natural feeling of all handguns. if there is an advantage one over the other it would be the faster loading 1911. i am happy to say i have both.

now if the dabate was about "americas rifle" there are just 2 rifles in my mind, the winchester lever action and the ar-15. for the speed of loading the ar-15 would have the edge.

to me these are the 4 most iconic firearms in our nations history and i am proud to say i voted with my pockerbook for them.

now ......does anyone want to volunter which are "americas shotguns" ?
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Old March 24, 2013, 06:05 PM   #49
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I think the Colt 1911 or a SAA takes the title.
DaleGribble- I think the Remington 1100 is a candidate for americas shotgun.
Semi-auto shotguns wouldnt be what they are today if it wasnt for the 1100.
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Old March 24, 2013, 06:24 PM   #50
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I would nominate the SAA because of the way the cowboy-as depicted in both Hollyweird and European productions is seen as the prototypical American.
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